Listening skills during NLP coaching are pivotal. Even more so than in regular coaching, as there is so much more to NLP.
We got a question from a former NLP training student in, and as part of our post-course support we answer their questions on this hub.
How to improve your listening skills during NLP coaching
1. Any day and in every way, you must strive to be better and better
Listening skills improve through experience, so must trust this process, and aim to come out a little more experienced after each NLP coaching session than you were at the start. As an NLP practitioner or NLP coach, you must always strive to be better and better. Rather than fall asleep behind the wheel of the car and settle for mediocrity.
2. In the fore- and background
In the Netherlands, children make what we call a “Looking Box” (kijkdoos). This is essentially an old shoebox but covered with colored paper instead of the lid. You make a hole in the short end of the box so someone can look through it. Inside the box, we put little cardboard figurines, houses, trees, etc. Some are standing more in the background, others up front.
What I recommend you to do is to experiment with placing content involving what they are saying more in the background, and your NLP based observation and tools more in the foreground, or the other way around. Now remember you need to give both a little bit of time to get used to it and test. But it will likely make a world of difference, not getting sucked into the content.
3. Reading two lines
Similar to the above, in reading piano sheet music you need to not only be able to read two lines at the same time. Listening and the rest of NLP are kind of like reading two lines at the same time. It is something that must travel from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, to conscious competence and to unconscious competence.
4. Perceptual positions
I recommend testing after stepping into the observer position (3rd perceptual position of NLP) or the position of empathy and standing in someone else’s shoes (2nd perceptual position). It may be as simple for you as stepping out of first, or some other perceptual position.
5. Being able to repeat
A helpful way to practice is imagining someone could test you at any moment. The test is that someone could ask you to repeat what the other person just said. This helps you get focused on what they say, rather than the noise that’s inside your head.
6. Step into a good NLP coaching state
In NLP training you did some NLP coaching on the Circle of Excellence or stacked anchors. Could you step into a state of curiosity? And focus rather than pass judgement? Your best coaching self, what would you see hear and feel? Would you have a quiet mind and be in up-time?
7. Intend to NLP meta model them
Start listening to people with the intent to only ask them NLP meta-model questions, rather than insert yourself in another way.
8. Practicing going into uptime
If you are naturally a down-time person, you may want to practice going into up-time (a lot). You can go for a walk and train your brain to notice what is going on outside of you. Any time you go back inside, don’t think about it or judge yourself, just go back to the task. You can then move on to the TV, other people.
9. Train your brain by meditating
I found a noticeable difference in my listening skills, or better yet “noise removal” inside my own brain, and the ability to focus by starting to meditate daily. I initially only meditated 5-15 minutes, and I could achieve much better results. You start feeling it about 6-12 weeks in. I can recommend the Headspace app if you are a beginner.
10. Practice everywhere
The above listening tips during NLP coaching can be practiced anywhere! Even outside of your coaching office.